February 12, 2013: Ridership among “choice passengers,” those who chose to use the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority’s various transit services, continued to grow in 2012.
TARTA recorded increased ridership levels for adults and senior citizens, up nearly 8 percent, as well as continuing the record-setting growth pattern of the Toledo Area Regional Paratransit Service. TARPS ridership increased 11.4 percent during 2012.
“TARTA continues to be a success story. Last year, we again recorded increases in our ‘choice passenger’ categories ‑ adult and senior citizen ridership as well as TARPS ridership for residents with disabilities,” said James K. Gee, TARTA’s General Manager. “These increases are indicative of the critical role TARTA plays in this area’s economic development. Our surveys clearly show the major reason people use our service is to get to work.”
Additionally, in 2012, TARTA added service to the new Hollywood Casino on Toledo’s east side and made modifications to some routes, which improved the transit Authority’s overall efficiency.
“Further, TARTA is confident ridership will continue to increase in 2013, provided the economy in general continues to make positive strides,” Gee said.
TARTA provides a variety of transportation services to eight communities in Lucas and Wood counties. These services include fixed-line service on regularly scheduled specific routes, seven days a week; TARPS for the disabled; Call-A-Ride, door-to-door service in seven suburban member communities; and shuttle service to Toledo Mud Hen and Walleye professional sporting events. Both TARPS and Call-A-Ride are call-in-advance services to arrange pickup times.
TARPS Sets Record
2012 is the 16th consecutive year TARPS has set ridership records by recording more trips than in the previous year. By comparison, TARPS ridership in 2012 was 300,466, compared to 269,768 in 2011. At one point recently, TARPS was the fastest growing service of its kind in Ohio and one of the top five in the nation.
According to Gee, “We’ll be watching closely the number of TARPS-eligible passengers who take advantage of our TARPS Ride TARTA For Free program that started in November.”
During the program’s first two months, November and December 2012, 4,277 free trips on TARTA fixed-line, Call-A-Ride and sports shuttle buses were recorded by TARPS-eligible passengers. To participate, TARPS-eligible passengers are required to be present at a TARTA stop when the bus arrives and to get on and off the bus without driver assistance.
The program reduces the higher cost of sending a smaller, specially equipped bus to the home of a TARPS-eligible rider and transporting that person to a specific location. TARPS drivers assist eligible riders from their door, help them onto the TARPS bus and then help them off the bus and to their destination’s door.
TARTA’s fixed-line service does not provide door-to-door service and follows specific routes and timetables, making the larger TARTA fixed-line buses less expensive to operate on a per trip basis.
It is too early to tell how many TARPS-eligible riders will utilize this free service.
2013 also will see the use of technology to inform riders of bus locations as well as assist suburban riders get to more locations without having to go downtown and change buses.
TARTA will begin phasing in the Automatic Vehicle Locating (AVL) Passenger Information System in 2013. Riders of TARTA’s fixed-line service will be able to tell in real time when their bus will arrive at their stop. Also, if there is an interruption or delay in service, the rider can receive a text with current information specific to their bus.
Furthermore, TARTA is developing a free, downloadable application that will permit riders with mobile devices also to access this location information.
Additionally, message boards are being installed at downtown locations as well as at The University of Toledo and other major destinations that will display expected arrival times at those specific locations.
Also during 2013, TARTA plans to begin revising and expanding its popular Call-A-Ride service, expanding the current coverage area into larger districts, enabling Call-A-Ride patrons to ride outside of their home communities.
Work also continues by TARTA and the city of Toledo on the development of a downtown central bus terminal and the elimination of the downtown Loop.
TARTA’s 2012 total ridership was 3,415,007, up from 3,359,675 in 2011.
The Toledo Area Regional Paratransit Service is a comparable, complementary paratransit service for riders covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act. It was established in 1989 and is operated by TARTA. TARPS is a schedule-in-advance service using special vehicles designed solely for riders with special needs. It provides service throughout the TARTA service area in Lucas and Wood counties.
The Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority was formed in 1971 and is a political subdivision under Ohio law, similar to a park district or a school district. TARTA carries nearly 3.5 million passengers annually and provides interconnected, regional service to seven communities in Lucas County – Toledo, Maumee, Waterville, Ottawa Hills, Sylvania and Spencer and Sylvania townships ‑ and Rossford in Wood County.
TARTA can be contacted by calling 419-243-RIDE (7433) or visiting its Web site,www.tarta.com.